The cat and mouse game with the Royal Malaysian Police

The Special Branch wanted to know how much of these tactics were being used to enable Anwar to communicate with the outside world and thereby organise his Reformasi Movement and other political activities from behind the high walls of the Sungai Buloh Prison.


Raja Petra Kamarudin

When I was about 11 or 12 years old, I was made to sit for an IQ test. I just enjoyed these tests because I had already done many before that. You see, my parents subscribed me to the Junior Readers Digest and every month, whenever I received my copies, I would relish reading them from cover to cover. One of my favourite chapters was the one on IQ tests.

Some questions were in text format and others in graphics form. Invariably, you are asked to solve puzzles and problems and how to get over sticky situations. My favourite question was the one about the bridge closing at 7.00pm and a guard being placed in the middle of the bridge to prevent anyone from crossing it. Those on the left bank would not be allowed to cross over to the right bank and vice versa.

The question was: you arrived at the bridge at 11.00pm and found the guard asleep in the middle of the bridge. If you crossed the bridge the guard would wake up and catch you trying to cross and will force you to go back the way you came. So how are you going to cross the bridge to get home?

Hmm….this was one tricky question. I pondered for a while and my reply was I would quietly creep across the bridge and just before I reached the guard I would turn around and walk back the way I came. I would then make a lot of noise, which would wake the guard up. The guard, seeing that I was trying to sneak across the bridge, would chase me and catch me and force me to return to the opposite direction. And the opposite direction is where I actually wanted to go in the first place.

So that would be how I would get to cross the bridge and go home. But this would mean the guard would have to be not too bright and can be easily fooled. He sees you heading back from where you came and he would think that you came from the other direction. So he would force you back to the opposite direction, thinking this is where you came from rather than this is where you actually wanted to go in the first place.

Confusing? Not really. All you need to do is to create the impression that you are coming from one direction whereas you are actually coming from the opposite direction. And when they force you to return to the direction they thought you were coming from, you end up, with their help, heading for the direction you really wanted to go.

And this is the cat and mouse game that one has to play with the officers in blue from the Royal Malaysian Police.

The officers in the Malaysian police force rejoice when they think they have got you covered and have figured out your every move. They monitor your movements, your phone calls, those of your friends, and whatnot. If they don’t get what they want they will dig deeper. And maybe, in the end, they will find what they want to know. So you need to give them something to work on. Let them think they have got you, whereas it is you who have got them.

For example, on 10 April 2001, the police picked up four people under the Internal Security Act — Tian Chua, Saari Sungib, Hishamuddin Rais and Ezam Mohd Nor. The police had been following me for three days and I knew I was also about to be picked up.

I got into my car and with my wife driving we went to our daughter’s apartment. My wife noticed we were being followed.

That evening, my wife went out to buy some ice cream and she saw a bunch of police officers loitering at the entrance. She knew they were waiting for me.

The next morning, we left the apartment, and about one kilometre down the road, they stopped our car and took me in. I could have sneaked out the back and would have been able to give them the slip, but it was crucial that we find out what their game plan was.

To cut a long 54-day story short, Anwar was facing nine criminal charges and was already convicted for the first and was facing trial for the second. He was eventually found guilty for both and his jail sentences were made to run consecutive rather than concurrent. The first conviction attracted a six-year jail sentence and the second nine years. Together with the seven months remand period during the trial, Anwar was given a 15 years and seven months jail sentence. And he still had seven more trials to go through.

Anwar was probably going to be in jail for at least 100 years, which meant he was going to die in jail.

My interrogation took 54 days and my signed ‘confession’ was more than 200 pages. There was a lot they asked me and a lot I told them. The most crucial piece of information they wanted was how did Anwar manage to run the Reformasi Movement from behind the high walls of the Sungai Buloh Prison? They knew the Reformasi Movement was being guided and run by Anwar. They just did not know how it was being done.

I was posed this question and I spilled the beans. I could not hold anything back. The information just flowed.

We meet Anwar in court during his many trials and that is when he dishes out his instructions. In fact, not only the Reformasi Movement, but also the party itself is run in this manner. We look forward to his trial dates because that is when we are able to meet Anwar and receive instructions from him.

Three days later, the Special Branch officers came to see me, bringing a copy of a newspaper. “Read this,” they told me.

It was the newspaper headline about the government dropping the balance seven charges against Anwar.

“So, now there are no more trials. Anwar will no longer be going to court. So how are you people going to meet him now?”

“Aiyah,” I said, with a very disappointed and dejected look on my face. “Now the link to Anwar has been severed. There would be no way we can continue meeting him to get further instructions from him.”

I sat back and looked my Special Branch officers in the face. They had this very pleased look, as it they had pulled off the coup of the century. These are five very happy Special Branch officers. They even offered me a cigarette and ordered some Kentucky Fried Chicken for my lunch. They had broken the link of communication between Anwar and the outside world. That is the end of Anwar’s communication network.

The Special Branch officers were probably made to sit for a course where they studied how Chin Peng communicated with his guerrillas in the Pahang, Perak and Kelantan jungles, plus those along the Malaysian-Thai border. I, in fact, discussed this with them and knew of the ‘dead letter boxes’ and all such primitive communication methods of 50 years or so ago.

The Special Branch knew that I knew. And I knew that the Special Branch knew that I knew. So they wanted to know how much of these tactics were being used to enable Anwar to communicate with the outside world and thereby organise his Reformasi Movement and other political activities.

Well, I could not hold anything back. I spilled my guts out and told them everything. And the result of that was they dropped the balance seven charges against Anwar so that he can be cut off from the outside world and can no longer direct things from behind the high walls of the Sungai Buloh Prison.

But that was not really how it was done. And of course I can’t tell you how it was done in case we need to do it again. But what matters is that they believed this was how it was done and they dropped the seven charges against Anwar to ‘plug the holes’.

They were one happy bunch of Special Branch officers the day they broke the news to me that they had dropped the balance seven charges against Anwar. And I had to pretend I was so disappointed and unhappy that they had outsmarted us.

Yes, I bet those Special Branch officers did not have to sit for IQ tests when they were 11 or 12 years old. If not they would have had to figure out how to cross the bridge after 7.00pm when the guard is sitting right in the middle of the bridge to stop anyone from crossing. And then they would have figured out you need to fool the guard by pretending that you are crossing from one direction whereas you are actually crossing from the opposite direction. Then they would have known that, if you can successfully fool the guard, he would actually assist you to cross to the side, where you actually wanted to go.

Yes, there is more I want to reveal. But let this suffice for today. In the next article we shall talk more about how to play cat and mouse games with the Malaysian police. No, nothing that has happened thus far is anything we did not want to happen. They think they have us on the run. They think they have sent us underground. Is that so? Lt Col George Armstrong Custer also thought he had the Indians on the run. By the time he realised it was the other way around, it was too late. Little Bighorn was Custer’s last stand and where the Seventh Calvary met its doom.

More later, and stay safe till then.